Follow HLP lab on the English Zwitscher

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Only a few years (decades?) late, HLP lab is now zwitschering insanely uninteresting things on Twitter. You can follow us and get updates about workshops, classes, papers, code, etc. And you can zwitscher back at us and we can all be merry and follow and comment on each other until our eyes pop out or ears explode. In this spirit: @_hlplab_

Presentation at CNS symposium on “Prediction, adaptation and plasticity of language processing in the adult brain”

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Earlier this week, Dave Kleinschmidt and I gave a presentation as part of a mini-symposium at Cognitive Neuroscience Conference  on “Prediction, adaptation and plasticity of language processing in the adult brain” organized by Gina Kuperberg.  For this symposium we were tasked to address the following questions:

  1. What is prediction and why do we predict?
  2. What is adaptation and why do we adapt?
  3. How do prediction and adaptation relate?

Although we address these questions in the context of language processing, most of our points are pretty general. We aim to provide intuitions about the notions of distribution, prediction, distributional/statistical learning and adaptation. We walked through examples of belief-updating, intentionally keeping our presentation math-free. Perhaps some of the slides are of interest to some of you, so I attached them below. A more in-depth treatment of these questions is also provided in Kleinschmidt & Jaeger (under review, available on request).

Comments welcome. (sorry – some of the slides look strange after importing them and all the animations got lost but I think they are all readable).

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It was great to see these notions discussed and related to ERP, MEG, and fMRI research in the three other presentations of the symposium by Matt Davis, Kara Federmeier and Eddy Wlotko, and Gina Kuperberg. You can read their abstracts following the link to the symposium I included above.

Post-doctoral position available (speech perception, language comprehension, implicit distributional learning, inference under uncertainty, hierarchical predictive systems)

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The Human Language Processing (HLP) Lab at the University of Rochester is looking for a post-doctoral researcher interested in speech perception and adaptation. Possible start dates for this 1-3 year position range from mid August 2014 to mid June 2015 (the current post-doctoral researcher funded under this grant will leave HLP lab in late August to start a tenure-track position in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh). International students are welcome to apply (NIH research grants are not limited to nationals).

We will start reviewing applications May 25th 2014 though later submissions are welcome. Applications should contain (1) a cover letter clearly indicated possible start dates, (2) a CV, (3) research statement detailing qualifications and research interests, and (4) 2 or more letters of recommendation. Applications and letters should be emailed to Kathy Corser (, subject line “application for post-doc position (HLP Lab)”.

This is an NIH funded project (NIHCD R01 HD075797), currently scheduled to end in 2018. The project is a collaboration between Florian Jaeger (PI), Mike Tanenhaus (co-PI), Robbie Jacobs and Dick Aslin. We are interested in Read the rest of this entry »

A good start to Klinton Bicknell at Northwestern

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A belated congratulations and a good start to Klinton Bicknell, who just started his tenure-track position in Linguistics at Northwestern. To quote his website, his research:

… seeks to understand the remarkable efficiency of language comprehension, using the tools of probability theory and statistical decision theory as explanatory frameworks. My work suggests that we achieve communicative efficiency by utilizing rich, structured probabilistic information about language: leveraging linguistic redundancy to fill in details absent from the perceptual signal, to spend less time processing more frequent material, and to make predictions about language material not yet encountered.

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old and new lme4

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(This is a guest post by Klinton Bicknell.)

The lme4 package‘s major 1.0 release was back in August. I and others have noticed that for typical psycholinguistic datasets, the new >=1.0 versions of lme4 often yield models with substantially poorer fits to the data than the old pre-1.0 versions (sometimes worse by many points of log likelihood), which suggests that the new lme4 isn’t as reliably converging to the actual maximum likelihood (or REML) solution. Since unconverged models yield misleading inferences about model parameters, it’s useful to be able to fit models using the old pre-1.0 lme4.

Happily, the lme4 developers have created a new package (named “lme4.0″), which is a bugfix-only version of the old pre-1.0 lme4. This allows for the installation of both old and new versions of lme4 side-by-side. As of this posting, lme4.0 is not yet on CRAN, but is installable by performing the following steps: Read the rest of this entry »

Another example of recording spoken productions over the web

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A few days ago, I posted a summary of some recent work on syntactic alignment with Kodi Weatherholtz and Kathryn Campell-Kibler (both at The Ohio State University), in which we used the WAMI interface to collect speech data for research on language production over Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

JaegerGrimshaw_poster_v3-final corrected (after print)
Jaeger and Grimshaw (2013). Poster presented at AMLaP, Marseilles, France.

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Socially-mediated syntactic alignment

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The first step in our OSU-Rochester collaboration on socially-mediated syntactic alignment has been submitted a couple of weeks ago. Kodi Weatherholtz in Linguistics at The Ohio State University took the lead in this project together with Kathryn Campbell-Kibler (same department) and me.

Welcome screen with sound  check from our web-based speech recording experiment.
Welcome screen with sound check from our web-based speech recording experiment.

We collected spoken picture descriptions via Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk to investigate how social attitude towards an interlocutor and conflict management styles affected syntactic priming. Our paradigm combines Read the rest of this entry »